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We’ve all heard it said, “When God closes a door, He always opens a window.”

It’s true, but it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes that closed door can rip your heart out.

The dashed dreams lying in pieces on the floor can feel like your whole world has ended.

And waiting for that open window can feel like an eternity.

(Forgive me if the story I’m about to tell you seems a bit vague in places. While I believe the best way to help others going through hard times is to write honestly about my past, there are some words that must remain unspoken, things I believe God would not have me write at this time.)

I lived in Australia for sixteen years, and although I was involved in many ministries over those years, the dearest to my heart was the Sunday school class I started for the teen girls in our church.

How I loved meeting with those precious girls every Sunday! I won’t say they were like daughters to me, since I wasn’t quite old enough to be their mother, but they were definitely like younger sisters.

Each week, their love for the Word of God grew, and I rejoiced to see them having daily devotions at home, then coming to class and sharing the things they were gleaning from the Scriptures.

We made prayer journals together, and it thrilled my heart to see “my” girls faithfully praying every day. We rejoiced over each answered prayer–whether it was an Algebra test passed, a sickness healed, or family financial needs met.

I poured my heart into those girls, and working with them brought me so much joy. I never expected my time with them to end so suddenly.

That Sunday morning, I had no idea I would never teach them again. We prayed, we shared, we learned together. And then we all went home, expecting to meet again the next week.

But that evening, the rumblings of a storm that had been brewing for some time unleashed its fury upon my family. When it was over, I found myself facing life as a single mom. I immediately made plans to return to America.

With a couple months left in Australia, I thought I would have some more time with my Sunday school class. But it was not to be. It was over. My last class had passed, with me unaware that this chapter of my life had closed.

How I wept the day I was no longer able to teach my class! I cried for my girls, for what had happened to me, and because I thought God could no longer use me. I felt I was simply collateral damage, a victim of the sins of others.

Fast-forward to the present. The past three years haven’t been easy. There were times I really believed I would never be used by God again.

But I was wrong.

Yes, some doors had been slammed in my face.

But the windows of promise were slowly opening.

Over the months, and then the years, God did an amazing thing.

He healed my heart, and then began to open doors of ministry in which I could once again point people to Jesus. He took the pain and hard times I had faced, and used them to encourage and comfort others facing difficult circumstances.

Though I thought my ministry was over, it was just beginning.

The point of my story is this:

When doors of opportunity, of ministry, of relationships, close upon you, it may feel like the end of the world.

But it is not the end.

God has a beautiful plan for your life. He can take anything, anything, and bring good from it.

He can use the hard things.

The heart-breaking things.

And, yes, even the sinful things that people do to you.

And weave them together into a magnificent tapestry of beauty that brings joy to your heart and glory to Him.

If you are facing closed doors today, don’t give up hope. Yes, cry the tears of disappointment. Grieve the loss. It’s ok to feel that pain.

But after a time, get up, look up, and don’t give up.

It may take some time, but those windows of hope will be opened to you.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58)

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)